Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is hoping to give his presidential campaign a boost Monday by doubling down on what made him famous: cracking down on public-sector unions.
Walker is unveiling a series of proposals to significantly reduce the scope and influence of those unions.
He even pledges in his plan to work with Congress to outright “eliminate big-government, federal unions on behalf of the American taxpayer.”
“Big-government unions should have no place in the federal workplace, and I will reform the law to prohibit them,” his plan says. “I will stand in solidarity with any governor, Republican or Democrat, who fights the big-government special interests in their state and takes on collective bargaining reform.”
Walker is also proposing to eliminate the federal agency that oversees labour practices, implement new transparency rules for union expenditures, and expand so-called right-to-work laws that weaken unions by empowering those who don’t want to pay union dues, among other things.
The Wisconsin governor’s campaign has recently struggled to find traction since real-estate mogul Donald Trump came into the race earlier in the summer.
Walker was long viewed as a front-runner to win Iowa, for example, but Trump and another political neophyte, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, have surpassed him in public polling. A Quinnipiac survey released last week put him in ninth place in the Hawkeye State, crumbling from 18% support in July to just 3% in September.
His Monday speech is a return to what made him an early favourite in 2016.
Walker burst onto the national scene during his 2012 recall race, in which he was opposed by national unions furious at him for curbing the collective-bargaining rights of Wisconsin state workers. His contentious electoral battles, including his 2014 re-election race, earned him favour from conservative activists who strongly backed his efforts.
The national Democratic Party is already lacing into Walker before his speech.
TJ Helmstetter, a Democratic National Committee spokesman, declared that it’s “desperate and disgusting that Scott Walker would seek to revive his flailing campaign on the backs of middle-class workers and families.”
“By seeking to dismantle unions — the backbone of the middle class that gave us weekends, paid vacations, and child labour laws — Scott Walker is again placing his political ambitions and the demands of his billionaire benefactors ahead of middle class Americans,” Helmstetter added.
The powerful AFL-CIO, the largest union of federal workers, also released a statement declaring Walker to be a “one-trick pony” (with an accompanying graphic).
Walker, of course, views his proposals differently. According to excerpts of the speech that his campaign forwarded to reporters, he will refer to his plan as necessary to “drain the swamp in Washington.”
“On Day One, I will repeal all of President Obama’s regulations that have reduced employee freedom and that have made it harder to create jobs,” his prepared remarks say. “On Day One, I will hold unions accountable and require transparency of union expenditures. On Day One, I will stop the big government union bosses from taking money out of the paychecks of federal employees for union dues spent on political activities.”
His campaign’s excerpts of the speech can be viewed below:
Just like President Reagan, I believe we need to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. I have a plan to check the power of the big-government union bosses, empower individuals and protect taxpayers.
On Day One, I will repeal all of President Obama’s regulations that have reduced employee freedom and that have made it harder to create jobs.
On Day One, I will hold unions accountable and require transparency of union expenditures.
On Day One, I will stop the big government union bosses from taking money out of the paychecks of federal employees for union dues spent on political activities.
First, we need to address the National Labour Relations Board which has become a one-sided proxy for the big union bosses – often at the expense of taxpayers and workers. For example, the NLRB’s actions initially stood in the way of Boeing bringing good jobs into South Carolina.
Our plan gets rid of the NLRB – and reassigns the few necessary responsibilities to more fair and balanced areas of the government. We need to level the playing field which will make it easier to create more jobs and higher wages.
Next, we must take on the big government union bosses in Washington – just like I did in Wisconsin.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best when he stated that union bargaining ‘cannot be transplanted into the public service.’
Even the leaders of the AFL-CIO once said that ‘government workers have no right to collectively bargain beyond the authority to petition Congress – a right available to every citizen.’
In 2012, taxpayers subsidized 3,395,187 hours of ‘official time’ time spent working for the union or lobbying. That cost the taxpayers $US156 million.
While the IRS was busy harassing conservative organisations they also had more than 200 federal employees whose only work was for the big government union bosses. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were working to help taxpayers?
Or how about the Department of Veterans Affairs? While more than 600,000 veterans were facing delays for medical care in the VA system, more than 250 federal employees – including nurses, pharmacists and rehabilitation experts – worked 100% of their time for the big government union bosses. Wouldn’t be nice if they were working to help our veterans?
Our plan will eliminate the big government unions entirely and put the American people back in charge of their government. Federal employees should work for the taxpayers – not the other way around.
Our plan calls for national Right to Work. Specifically, we set a presumption that every employee in America – public and private sector – has the freedom to choose whether they want to be in a labour union or not. This is pro-freedom and pro-worker.
Our plan calls for the passage of the Employee Rights Act. That too is pro-freedom and pro-worker.
Our plan allows employers to provide employees with the option of using overtime for time off from work. For many parents, more time with family is more valuable than a monetary payment. That’s pro-family.
Our plan will eliminate Davis-Bacon and Project Labour Agreements and all other items that add costs to the taxpayers. This will make taxpayer dollars go farther as we rebuild the economy.
Any economic plan that does not bring our federal labour laws into the 21st Century is incomplete. To grow the economy at a higher rate, requires a comprehensive approach and reform of the labour unions is a key part of the plan. In the coming days, we will lay out our plan to grow the American economy.
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